Oscar Viewership Rises 4% As ‘Oppenheimer’-Dominated Ceremony Starts An Hour Earlier

It’s not the near sweep that Oppenheimer had, but ABC certainly has something to celebrate out of last night’s Academy Awards.

With the final numbers in, 19.5M viewers tuned in to watch the 2024 Oscars, according to Nielsen data. That’s a 4% win over the 18.8 million who tuned in for the 95th annual Academy Awards in 2023, propelling the show to a 4-year audience high.

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The telecast also was at a 3.8 demo rating, compared with last year’s 4.0 — down, but not by much.

Perhaps it was naked John Cena or Ryan Gosling’s energizing performance of Barbie‘s “I’m Just Ken” that pushed the audience over the edge.

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It probably didn’t hurt that the 2024 Oscars saw blockbusters like Christopher Nolan’s bio of the man who created the atom bomb and Greta Gerwig’s Barbie as serious main contenders — a rarity in recent years of big movies being up for big prizes.

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Whatever the reason or reasons, with this lift, ABC finally has the bragging rights to say that this was not one of the least-watched Oscar ceremonies of all time. Viewership has been on a steady incline over the past several years, rising quite heftily from the hostless 2021 Oscars, which drew an audience of 10.4 million.

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In 2022, the year of the slap seen around the world when subsequent Best Actor winner Will Smith took a whack at presenter Chris Rock, viewership leapt up to 16.6M.

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In that context, note that this year’s Oscars started an hour earlier that usual, running from 7 pm ET/4 pm PT to around 10:25 pm ET/7:25 pm PT. Moving the kick-off to earlier Sunday was an attempt to keep the broadcast and hence advertisers and viewers in primetime. That’s a departure from way too many previous years when the Oscars ran well past 11 pm ET.

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Still, even with that and this year’s uptick, it’s unlikely that the Oscars, or any award shows for that matter, will reach the audiences they did a decade ago. The Oscars have been on a steady decline for the past decade, after scoring more than 43M viewers in 2014.

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By 2020, that audience was nearly halved with 23.6M tuning in. The pandemic certainly accelerated that decline, completely tampering the ratings. But now, as today makes clear, they are on track to reach, if not exceed, pre-pandemic levels.

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The audience growth for the Oscars appears to be in line with most award ceremonies over the past year. In January, the Golden Globes was up 50% in viewership to its best in years. Same goes for the Grammys, which made a double-digit jump from the audience two years ago.

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Jimmy Kimmel was back for the fourth time as ABC’s tried-and-true host for the evening, where Oppenheimer and Poor Things were the night’s most decorated films. Oppenheimer took home Best Picture, as well as Best Director and Best Actor for Christopher Nolan and Cillian Murphy, respectively. Meanwhile, Emma Stone nabbed Best Actress for her role as Bella Baxter in Poor Things.

More on those winners here. Check out Deadline’s review of the 96th Academy Awards here too.

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